Discussion: Writing Discussion Posts

Posted 9 November, 2012 by Amanda / 24 Comments

If you’ve been following me for more than a couple weeks, you know that I publish discussion posts. I’m a thinker, an observer, and occasionally a philosopher. If a topic captures my attention and makes me think for more than a few minutes, it is probably worthy of a discussion post. And I’ll talk about just anything within the book blogging world. Well, as long as it doesn’t incite a lot of drama. Many times I have scrapped a post or completely rewritten it because I felt the original post was too inflammatory. And although I want to encourage discussion, I don’t want to create unnecessary drama. But, enough about me.

I have heard many people say that discussion posts are difficult to write, or they don’t know what to write about, or they’re afraid no one will respond. I understand that. To a certain extent, those are all thoughts I’ve had myself. But I also think that discussion posts are not as scary as we think. A discussion post doesn’t have to be life-altering or a unique topic or even in-depth. A discussion post isn’t a discussion post because the resulting comments and discussion are incredibly insightful and long and amazing.

A discussion post creates discussion. Period.

The discussion post of mine that has received the most comments is when I talked about being in denial about reading YA. It is 122 words long. (This post, on the other hand, is already double that and I’m not finished yet.) Most of the comments were short, but everyone talked about what THEY were in denial about. And it was FUN. Everyone’s responses inspired me to take the “in denial” idea and turn it into a feature. (I have since admitted being a cover whore and being addicted to free erotica.) I mean, we all have things about us that change or that we don’t always feel comfortable talking about. That is something many of us can relate to, even if whatever I’m in denial about is not what you’re in denial about.

Discussion posts capitalize on common ground. And book bloggers have SO MUCH COMMON GROUND. The books we read, our book reading habits, our book buying habits, how we blog, how we organize (our books, our blog), how we use social media, our pet peeves. Do you see how the possibilities are virtually endless? In fact, just about any experience we have is conducive to a discussion post. Why is it so hard to comment on certain reviews? Discussion post. The blogging behaviors that make you go, “Huh?” Discussion post. Twitter peeves? Discussion post. One day I discover that my reading/buying habits have changed because of blogging? Discussion post. Having people mention that they don’t know how to write discussion posts or are afraid to start? THIS DISCUSSION POST RIGHT HERE!

If you’re an active participant in the blogging world and you observe what happens, you can write a discussion post. It doesn’t have to be life-changing. It doesn’t have to be in-depth or insightful. It doesn’t even have to answer a question. It could call for help in discovering an answer, or call for opinions from other bloggers. A discussion post doesn’t have to be in response to a big situation or fuck up in the book world. It could be in response to a comment you received that got you thinking about something. It could be in response to someone else’s discussion post. (Alissa has written a couple FABULOUS discussion posts after reading mine, and Kristilyn wrote one about her experience in blogging for herself after I wrote about blogging for yourself.) You can take someone’s idea and BUILD on it, so that you develop the idea further or offer additional perspective on the topic. Not only does that create discussion–it creates community.

So remember: discussion posts 1) capitalize on common ground and personal experience, and 2) encourage discussion of ANY kind.

What is the most difficult part of writing a discussion post for you?

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24 Responses to “Discussion: Writing Discussion Posts”

  1. Discussion posts are my favorite. I like getting to be more than a number out there, or a lurker. (I’m way more likely to comment on a discussion than a review.)

    I even think the UNcommon ground connects us. I’ve seen some really good discussions that don’t even initially have to do with blogging or reading or writing, but get tied back to those things anyway.

    I’m all for thinking and sharing!

    • Yes! I think discussion posts often pull in silent readers (or people who read your posts, but don’t necessarily comment often). And that’s one thing I love *love* about discussion posts.

      Maybe it’s more about finding a way to relate your life/thoughts/opinions to your audience that make for good discussion posts? If you can connect with something someone has written, then you’re more likely to want to engage (i.e., comment).

  2. I completely understand the sentiment about discussion posts being a scary thing to tackle. I’ve found the more I join in on weekly memes like ‘Book Blogger Confessions’ the more I am able to really think about what kind of discussions I want to have on my blog. I like learning about bloggers outside of their blog — their thoughts and opinions on things. It makes the experience of going to their blog much more personal.

  3. I love discussion posts! But you probably already knew that. :)

    Whenever something comes up that I really want to talk about, I immediately dive into writing the discussion, or write down the idea with notes for later. They’re great because not everyone can relate to a review I post, but a lot of people can join in on a discussion. We all have things we like to say!

    Of course, there are times when drama explodes all over the place and I REALLY want to give my $0.02, but I have to refrain because I don’t want to exasperate the issue.

    • Yup. I started a discussion topics page where I write down all the ideas that float through my brain. Sometimes something happens and I recognize it could be an awesome idea but don’t have the drive to write it at that moment, and sometimes I’m like, “I MUST WRITE THIS NOW!” The discussion topic page is very useful for the former.

      There are two reasons why I would ever weigh in on drama: 1. It happened to me directly. 2. I was “breaking” the story. Having an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean you *should* share it. You know? Most of the time it really does nothing to solve the issue.

  4. Though I don’t really do discussion posts on my blog at all (mostly because I’m lazy and haven’t thought of any interesting topics), I love reading and leaving comments for the bloggers that do. It’s so nice to stumble across a post that has a topic I’ve been struggling with/worrying over/happy about and it’s extraordinarily satisfying to know that I’m not alone in my feelings about it. Plus, it’s really fun to have an actual conversation sometimes – something more than a “great review, I’m adding this book to my list” that reminds me I’m part of a community of people and not just one blogger:)

    • Ha. Oh, Jenny. I do the “great review” or “adding this to my list” with your reviews ALL THE TIME. To be fair, I mean EVERY SINGLE WORD.

      Though I agree, discussion posts really do open the door to greater interaction with other bloggers. And, like you said, discussion posts often hit upon topics that other people are also experiencing. And then we can all commiserate or celebrate whatever it is, together. As communities do.

  5. I do love the discussion post because I get responses from a lot of lurkers who wouldn’t otherwise post. Even though my posts are usually pretty quick (that goes for book review posts, too. Just my thing. Laying it down and moving on. Heh.), I enjoy the interaction with my bloggy and book-loving compatriots!

    And (this is from reading Jenny’s response & your reply) I don’t mind the “great review” or “adding this” comments because I know I’m reaching people but I do love a conversation. (Even more because I’m such an introvert IRL!)

    • Sometimes posts don’t necessarily have to be long if you have the right topic/question.

      All comments have their place, I think. Discussion posts just give us more freedom to spread our wings. Or words. Whatever.

  6. Ack! I always forget to comment on your discussion posts because I see them ahead of time and think I ALREADY HAVE commented! Lame-o!

    For me, it’s not a matter of a lack of topics (well, sometimes it is) but more about how many reviews I schedule on my blog. I have SO MANY that I think a discussion post would get lost. So I just hump your posts. It’s fun. I highly recommend it.

  7. I love them when you & others do them. I’m just too lazy and unimaginative to think of something good. Mostly, it is the firing up my computer when the ideas come calling. It is my FAIL as a blogger.

    But maybe I’ll rise to the challenge, since you made it less scary.

    • I have a lot of ideas, but I don’t always have the motivation to put them down and flesh them out into an actual post. Sometimes I let them percolate in my brain until I reach the point where I know what the bulk of my post should say.

      The best way to defeat yourself when writing is thinking you have nothing unique or good to say. If it’s interesting to you, it’s probably going to be interesting to other people, too.

      Go Amy GO!

  8. Thank you for the inspirational post! I’ve read it through a couple of times now and feel more motivated. I really want to do more discussions. It’s why I wanted to do the Let’s Talk meme, but I also want to focus on other topics, too. I’m slowly realizing that I may have an interesting thing or 2 to say on topics, and I just need to get better at identifying them. :)

    • Write those posts, Smash. WRITE THEM! (A particular favorite discussion post of yours, btw, was about authors commenting on reviews. I think those are the kinds of posts that are most successful–the ones that are borne out of an experience or comment that make you go, “Wait. What does everyone else think?”)

  9. To date, that particular post has had the most views and comments, so you are definitely right there. I need to remember to write down those moments as something to explore. Most of the time they are fleeting and I forget. ugh!

  10. “as long as it doesn’t incite a lot of drama. Many times I have scrapped a post or completely rewritten it because I felt the original post was too inflammatory.”

    OK, quickly, just there, may I say how much I appreciate you avoiding the drama? ♥

    And… I think that, before I ever wrote one, I thought discussion posts were scary. What should I write about?

    • Uh. I didn’t mean to post that yet.
      I meant, like. What do I post? What if I say something wrong and I do incite drama? What if I come off as a vapid, inane airhead? WHAT IF, AMANDA? WHAT IF.

      And then I wrote the first one, and it wasn’t so scary at all. In fact, my first discussion post is, I think, the post on my blog with the most comments from individual people not related to a giveaway. And… yeah. And I love the DISCUSSION. The opportunity to talk and think and reflect and ♥

      • When I write, I look at how I say things. Am I “preaching”? Am I being overly negatively about someone/something/some group? Am I criticizing or philosophizing? Generally, I try to make things as positive as possible, and then write in as many “these are my opinions” “this post is supposed to accomplish X” disclaimers as possible.

        And then I wrote the first one, and it wasn’t so scary at all.

        YES. I think the THOUGHT of writing a discussion post is far more scarier than actually writing it.